This year marks 100 years since the 19th Amendment granted American women the right to vote, after a long fight for suffrage. An important leader in this crusade, Susan B. Anthony, fought boldly for women's rights and other important causes throughout her life. Though Anthony did not live to see women officially receive the vote, she was once arrested for casting a vote in protest of her gender's disenfranchisement. Now, to celebrate women who vote, Mattel has added a Susan B. Anthony Barbie doll to their Barbie Inspiring Women series.
In recent years, Mattel has dedicated itself to inspiring girls in diverse and inclusive ways. This includes providing young girls (and boys) with “sheroes” such as Anthony. The activist joins a line of Barbie Inspiring Women dolls—Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Jean King, and Rosa Parks to name just a few of the heroines currently available to purchase—in an effort to pay homage to real women. They do not not look like your stereotypical Barbie dolls. They break the mold. Past releases include Bindi Irwin, Frida Kahlo, and snowboarder Chloe Kim. Mattel hopes Barbie can allow the next generation to play, explore, and succeed in whatever they do.
With an important election approaching, Mattel's latest choice to commemorate the voting pioneer is a powerful decision. Born into a Quaker family of abolitionists and temperance crusaders, Anthony's beliefs on women's rights fully blossomed through her friendship with the prominent suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Her 1872 arrest for illegal voting caused a stir, and by the 1880s Anthony was a very powerful political figure within the women and labor rights movements. Today, many women still place their “I Voted” stickers on Anthony's grave in homage to her legacy.
Like that of many historical figures, Anthony's legacy is far from simple. Despite being an abolitionist, after the Civil War she and many other suffragists refused to accept that Black men would acquire the vote while women remained disenfranchised. Anthony and the struggle for women's liberation too often centered the rights of white, bourgeois women. In practice, only these white women gained the right to vote in 1920. As November 3rd approaches, Mattel's Susan B. Anthony doll is a golden opportunity for parents and teachers to educate young people about her accomplishments. It is also a good starting point for conversations on the broad, diverse, and ongoing struggle many Americans face in exercising their right to vote.
To learn more and purchase the Susan B. Anthony doll or any of the Barbie Inspiring Women series, head over to Mattel's website.